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Sunday, June 16, 2024

All-day brunch restaurant Ruby Sunshine set to open this summer in Gainesville

New Orleans-style food items, mimosa flights, award-winning Bloody Mary make the menu

Up and down the streets of Gainesville, students, residents and visitors alike are met with an array of options to relish in what is arguably the most important meal of the day: brunch.

Now, the city’s most dedicated brunch aficionados can add yet another restaurant to their list.

Ruby Sunshine, an all-day brunch restaurant chain, is set to open its doors to the greater Gainesville public this summer. The restaurant will join other retail locations in occupying Butler Town Center, located at 3600 SW 32nd Court.

The restaurant brings a New Orleans flair to Southern brunch classics, serving dishes like The Trifecta — which combines Ruby Sunshine’s three signature benedicts: the Eggs Cochon, Chicken St. Charles and Bayou Shrimp — often paired with a seasonal mimosa flight or one of the restaurant’s award-winning Bloody Marys.

Marla Chua, 37, is Ruby Slipper Restaurant Group’s culinary operations partner, as well as a former Louisiana State University student and graduate of the Louisiana Culinary Institute.

“In New Orleans and even LSU, we like to have fun,” Chua said. “Our menu and our atmosphere will bring a lot of college students and locals to our restaurants to have fun, indulge in our delicious menu items and crave and come back for more.”

Ruby Slipper Restaurant Group has grown to 21 restaurants in various states throughout the country, including Florida, Alabama, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee.

The Ruby Sunshine location in Gainesville will mark the group’s fourth location in Florida — joining restaurants in Destin, Pensacola and Sandestin. 

Ruby Slipper Restaurant Group traces its roots back to 2008, after Hurricane Katrina ravaged New Orleans in 2005.

Jennifer and Erich Weishaupt decided to transform an old corner store in a New Orleans neighborhood that had been damaged by the storm into what would become the first-ever Ruby Slipper Café.

The couple had a vision to create a space aimed at bringing people together and fostering a sense of community following the traumatic storm.

After the restaurant quickly gained a following, the couple decided to open a second restaurant in the city’s Central Business District.

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Along with the restaurants’ growing popularity came a demand for additional restaurants in other states. As the couple began opening more restaurants to satisfy the demand, they found that they were actually creating more demand.

Danielle Stokes, 57, is Ruby Slipper Restaurant Group’s vice president of real estate and development and oversees the progress of the group’s restaurants in different markets. Demand was a significant factor in the growth of Ruby Slipper Restaurant Group into Gainesville, she said.

“We've had a lot of customers that have eaten at our restaurants from other locations that are from Gainesville that have requested for us to come there,” Stokes said.

The group’s original restaurants along the Gulf Coast donn the name Ruby Slipper, and the company has started using the name Ruby Sunshine as they’ve expanded into other markets.

Nonetheless, every restaurant that has grown out of Ruby Slipper Restaurant Group is united under a single mindset, #ThatBrunchLife, which focuses on brunch as an experience rather than just a meal. The hashtag is such an important part of its brand that an entire section of its website is dedicated to it.

Jennifer Beougher, Ruby Slipper Restaurant Group’s 46-year-old chief financial officer, described the hashtag as a reflection of the “Big Easy” of New Orleans and the easygoing nature of brunch at the restaurants.

As a UF alumna who moved from Florida to New Orleans to take on the role, Beougher looks forward to bringing the spirit of Ruby Sunshine to her beloved college town, she said.

Now that she lives in “a complete city of LSU Tigers,” she also anticipates creating some internal rivalry among LSU and UF fans as Ruby Slipper Restaurant Group, born out of New Orleans, makes its way down from the Panhandle into Gator Nation.

“We're really excited to be part of the community and to build kind of a long-term relationship there and use it as a launchpad for growth,” Beougher said.

The public can stay up to date on Ruby Sunshine Gainesville’s official opening date by visiting the company’s website, rubybrunch.com.

Contact Amanda at arubio@alligator.org. Follow her on Twitter @amandacrubio.

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Amanda Rubio

Amanda Rubio is a first-year journalism student at the University of Florida and an Avenue staff writer at the Alligator. When she isn’t writing, you’ll probably find her reading romance novels; binge-watching Glee, which she’s watched an unnecessary amount of times; or somehow finding more ways to make Harry Styles her entire personality.


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